I’m going to highlight a few of the most interesting talks from the science visualization conference in Oxford, sprinkled in with my favorites from the photos I’ve taken in and around this enchanting town. To kick things off, Alyssa Goodman (Harvard University), gave a wonderful talk about her work visualizing astronomical data. Alyssa showed us the way her research group is using medical imaging software to compile 3D representations of astronomical data. So, in much the same way medical researchers use software to compile, for instance, thin-slice anatomical images, she uses the same software to better understand astronomical imaging. For example, the intensity of something (her example was CO2) as a function of energy (wavelength), some sort of state (polarization direction), three dimensional position, and time. An interesting case in point to show the need for 3D tools to help scientists understand their data.
Alyssa’s talk was followed by Katy Borner (Indiana University) who talked about science knowledge maps. She’s an Associate Professor of Information Science at the School of Library and Information Science and her research focuses on the development of visualization methodologies (knowledge domains, users of 3D virtual worlds, interfaces to digital libraries), networks and diffusion of knowledge, and the development of infrastructures for large scale scientific collaboration and computation. She is an advisor on the Mapping Science project – a fascinating way to look at science knowledge, collaboration, citations, and funding. Places & Spaces: Mapping Science is a physical exhibit with an online counterpart. The project overall is meant to inspire cross-disciplinary discussion on how to best track and communicate human activity and scientific progress on a global scale. The physical exhibit is traveling the world – it’s been shown in 72 venues on four continents, it’s currently at NSF in Arlington, VA. When you go to the physical exhibit you will see high quality reproductions of maps on display; the online counterpart provides links to a selected series of maps and their makers along with detailed explanations of how these maps work. The exhibit is a 10-year effort. Each year, 10 new maps are added resulting in 100 maps total in 2014. Borner has a new book, Atlases of Science, (MIT Press) that will be published later this year.